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Railroad worm beetles

The beetle family Phengodidae is known also as glowworm beetles, whose larvae are known as glowworms. The females and larvae have bioluminescent organs. They occur throughout the New World from extreme southern Canada to Chile. The recently recognized members of the Phengodidae, the Cydistinae, are found in Western Asia. The family Rhagophthalmidae, an Old World group, used to be included in the Phengodidae.

Larval and larviform female glowworms are predators, feeding on millipedes and other arthropods occurring in soil and litter. The winged males, which are often attracted to lights at night, are short-lived and probably do not feed. Females are much larger than the males and are completely larviform. Males may be luminescent, but females and larvae have a series of luminescent organs on trunk segments which emit yellow or green light, and sometimes an additional head organ which emits red light, as in railroad worms.

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.